Thursday, January 3, 2013

Is Cable Television Really Dying?

Great piece last month in the NY Times Magazine on cable television's extraordinary business model.  A must read for anyone who wonders why so much junk, along with a handful or truly great programming jewels, can continue to generate such enormous revenue year after year, despite the endless prediction of a collapse.

After describing "cable's ascendance in to arguably America's single most-profitable big business" and why demographic and technological factors are already very slowly killing it, the author paints his picture of the future:
Perhaps we’ll get a truly free digital marketplace, one in which each program competes on its own without any outsize monopoly profits for whoever owns the wires and the channels. In many ways, that would be a much better system. Cable providers behave like OPEC, a cartel that keeps prices high and limits innovation. With little or no barrier to entry, better ideas and programs would win, while old, monopolistic conglomerates would crumble. If entertainment becomes anything like more competitive markets — cellphones, say — there should more variety and lower cost. 
Ironically, as the author notes, there may be much less gambling on big budget shows like Game of Thrones,  Mad Men and Breaking Bad.